New video: a tour of the MULTIPLIERS Open Science Communities
Watch our new video to get an impression of our first year of activities!
Watch our new video to get an impression of our first year of activities!
As more germs like bacteria and fungi develop the ability to defeat the drugs designed to kill them, we are faced with increased antimicrobial resistance (AMR): an issue that is not only considered today’s “silent pandemic” but also a “wicked problem”.
In Cyprus, our Open Science Community (OSC) is experimenting with different teaching methods to increase societal awareness about AMR, a topic of high social complexity and of difficult resolution. Many biological and social factors play a role in increasing AMR, such as the behaviour of bacteria, the overuse and overprescription of antibiotics by individuals, and decisions taken by governments and multinational corporations.
To explore the different facets of the topic and present them to the wider public, a group of five students from the Junior and Senior School in our OSC participated in the sCYence fair, the largest Science Festival in Cyprus. After being introduced to the topic and interacting with experts at the biobank.cy molecular medicine center last year, the students went through an internal competition and were selected by a jury of science teachers to participate in the fair. There, they presented their work in the form of a 3-minute role-play representing different stakeholders debating on the question: “Should we ban the use of antibiotics for the treatment of flu?”. They represented a doctor, a scientist, a policymaker, a farmer, and a patient. Each representative argued on the topic above presenting their claims, reasoning, and available evidence.
After the role-play, the students wrapped up with concluding remarks about the use of antibiotics and explained how they worked with their teachers, the biobank.cy experts and University of Cyprus researchers to develop their school projects on antimicrobial resistance (e.g., posters, modelling-based activities, role-play, flyers).
A total of 66 groups of students, aged 9 to 18, from 49 schools in Cyprus participated in the sCYence fair attended by the MULTIPLIERS students. The fair was the first of a series of upcoming activities where our students will act as “knowledge multipliers” to develop their science communication skills and pass on to society what they have learned on social-scientific dilemmas as part of the project.
More information about the fair is available on the event website and Facebook account.
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One of MULTIPLIERS’ learning projects in the region of Reggio Emilia was the topic of a video published by the news portal Reggionline on the occasion of World Water Day.
The portal interviewed Arturo Bertoldi (Eduiren) and Paola Semeghini (partner school Blaise Pascal) on the Multipliers learning project on clean water and sanitation, which required students to undertake a history research project on the Secchia Channel (Canale di Secchia). Dating back to the Middle Ages, the channel was the first water system in town.
The video shows an exhibition prepared by the students to showcase their work, which involved studying maps of the ancient channel and collecting information on the channel’s path, water uses and different locations.
The first round of MULTIPLIERS in Germany is dedicated to the topic of vaccination, with a focus on HPV and Covid-19, as well the immunological and ethical aspects of the vaccines. But raising awareness about the infection and promoting science learning are not the only goals of the project. Through visits to authentic settings and contact with experts, MULTIPLIERS is opening students’ perspectives to careers in science.
In January 2023, students from the Ernst-Moritz-Arndt-Gymnasium in the city of Bonn were invited by the ImmunoSensation2 research group to visit scientists in their labs at the German Center of Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE), the Life & Medical Sciences Institute (LIMES) and the Institute of Innate Immunity (III). Among other activities, they were shown how to distinguish virus strains using the PCR method and how to transfect cells with DNA plasmids. The event was accompanied by lectures on immunological topics around vaccination and a visit to the University of Bonn’s Center for Life Ethics.
“Conducting scientific activities in a setting like this, in a real-life lab, with real scientists, students get a very authentic insight into how science works. We hope that throughout the project, we can open up students perspective also to new jobs and future professional careers that they might find interesting, and to increase their interest in science.”Jana Schilbert, Department of Biology Education, University of Bonn
“What I love about this project is that students have the possibility, one that they rarely get in school, to get to know scientists and their work environment. So they can think about a career as a scientists, for example, and find out what they need to become scientists.”Corinna Schwarz, Department of Biology Education, University of Bonn
Take a look at the video below to discover what the students experienced in the labs!
Banner photo credit: Rolf Müller / Universitätsklinikum Bonn
Video credit: David Fußhöller / Universitätsklinikum Bonn
Almost 70% of Sweden is covered by forests, making the topic of “Forest use vs Forest protection” of great importance and personal relevance to most people in the country, young as well as old. During Autumn 2022, two secondary school classes in the city of Örnsköldsvik, in Northern Sweden, took a deep dive into various forest-related local and global issues.
The basis for the learning activities was the teaching material Skogslabbet (Forest Lab), developed by the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU) in collaboration with local teachers. Both SLU and the teachers are partners in the MULTIPLIERS Open Science Community (OSC) in Sweden. Further, activities developed by Umeå University and the OSC partners were added.
The modules in Forest Lab focus on sustainable development, climate, biological diversity, and the topics “forest as a circular resource” and “humans and the forest”. With this broad approach, Forest Lab relates to general aspects of the Swedish national curriculum as well as particular content of the Biology and Science Studies courses. The MULTIPLIERS OSC in Sweden was part of the work throughout the modules. Here, we share our experience with the teaching and learning activities, focusing on three valuable components: interviews on people’s relationship to forests, a roleplay mirroring current societal debates around forests, and an investigation of how the topic is portrayed by the media.
Interviews with three generations
As one of the introductory activities, students interviewed people from three generations about their individual historical relationship to forests under the theme “What do three different generations know about forests?”. Students were asked to find out from parents, grandparents or other people from older generations how their current relationship with the forest is and what they use the forest for. Most importantly, they were asked to find out how the people they interviewed think forest use has changed throughout their lifetime.
Forest debate, a roleplay on “Forest use vs Forest protection”
To practice scientific argumentation while learning more about the current societal debate on forests, a roleplay activity from Forest Lab was introduced. The teacher divided each class into six actor groups: private forest owners, forest companies, the general public, environmental organisations, indigenous Sami communities and public authorities. Within each group, every student rolled a dice to get a personality in terms of age, gender, role in the actor group and personal traits. After that, students had time to prepare their characters. The debate took place in the classroom and involved three issues/case studies:
After adopting roles and joining actor groups in all three case studies, students were happy to share their experiences and ideas. About the science learning, students said: “Generally it was a good possibility to discuss what we thought about forest use” and “We learnt things when we did the research”. About the debate, students thought that “In the beginning, I was focused on what my character thinks but towards the end, I reflected on what I believe myself” and “I am not like that in reality, this was acting”. Also, students wished for more debate around some of the questions. For example, they suggested rephrasing the questions to elicit more varied opinions and arguments among the actor groups.
After future development of the activity, we hope to give the MULTIPLIERS Open Science Community (OSC) a more central role in interacting with students to define roles in the actor groups and personal traits of the characters.
Meeting a journalist and analysing newspaper articles
To develop skills in critical thinking, Ulrika Nohlgren, a journalist from the local newspaper Norran and a partner in our OSC, met the students with the aim to show how journalists work (and don’t work) and highlight core aspects of their profession. In preparation, students read a recent newspaper article titled “Forest companies cut down forests younger than regulations allow”. Based on the article, they wrote a short reflection on whether they found the article balanced (or unbalanced) in relation to the perspective of different stakeholders and the issue of “Forest use vs Forest protection”.
Discussions that followed focused on what “balanced” means and what is behind what we read in newspapers compared to, for example, social media. This highlighted the importance of developing media education skills and knowledge in relation to all societal and environmental challenges, which helps to make science more meaningful and relevant to everyday life.
Taken together, the activities enabled the students to practice critical thinking and argumentation as well as learn more about historical and current views of “Forest use and forest protection” by interacting with families, experts and the media.
Poor air quality has been a major public health issue in Spain for years. Last December, the EU’s top Court ruled against the country for the high air pollution levels in Madrid and Barcelona, deciding that these cities failed to protect the health of their citizens. But the future is not all bleak. In Barcelona, measures to boost sustainable mobility led to a 31% reduction in air pollution since 2015, and steps to further improve pollution levels continue to be implemented.
Given the importance of the issue, air pollution has become the central topic of MULTIPLIERS in Spain. Our local partner Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB) is discussing the impacts of air pollution on health and teaching students how to use air quality monitoring devices in schools, among other tools, to understand how forecasts and decisions around air quality are made. In this article, we share the first steps of our journey and present how our learning materials will turn students into knowledge multipliers, raising awareness about air pollution in their communities and beyond.
The beginnings: Identifying organizations and people interested in the air pollution problem
At the start of the project, the MULTIPLIERS team at UAB worked on identifying both individuals and organizations in the Barcelona area interested in the topic of air pollution. As part of this process, people from different sectors, and with different backgrounds and specific interests, were contacted for the establishment of a core Open Science Community (OSC). Our first OSC members included two science research institutions, two teaching support and resource providers, and four lower secondary schools located in two cities of Barcelona’s metropolitan area (Sabadell and Terrassa).
Since then, we have worked with these and other new OSC stakeholders in the design of teaching and learning materials that will be implemented in the four secondary schools during this academic year (2022-23).
Identifying challenges faced by science research institutions
The second step was to approach scientists based in Barcelona and the surrounding area whose research topics relate to air pollution from different perspectives. For instance, our two OSC partners ISGlobal (Barcelona Institute for Global Health) and IAAC (Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia) are devoted, respectively, to the study of the effects of air pollution on health and to the development of sensors to measure air pollution at a relatively low cost. We also contacted other institutions to invite them to become members of our OSC: ICTA-UAB (Institute of Environmental Science and Technology), who conducts an integrated system analysis of urban nature-based solutions, among other topics, and the BSC (Barcelona Supercomputing Center), where researchers develop air quality models as useful tools to obtain forecasts and assess the dynamics of regulated air pollutants.
Knowing institutions’ and research groups’ interests helped us to identify some challenges to be addressed in the students’ learning materials. Some important ideas around air pollution highlighted by the experts are, on the one hand, that solid particulate matter (PM) pollutants that are suspended in the air have important negative effects on human health (e.g. cardiovascular diseases, cognitive problems, etc) but more research is needed to find out their specific extent. On the other hand, because of the significant changes in pollutant levels depending on the place of the measurement, more data about NO2, PM concentration is needed to determine the actual levels of pollution in different cities and streets, and to allow forecasting and decision-making to tackle them.
Additionally, during this period we also identified some other educational challenges to consider, based on the literature in science education as well as on some previous experiences working with the topic in primary and secondary schools. In this sense, two relevant ideas are, firstly, that the study of air pollution phenomena in classrooms requires specific work on their scale because different particle sizes are involved. In fact, PM consists of pollutant particles with a size between 10-5 m and 10-7 m (mesoscale) and NO2 are pollutant particles with a size between 10-10 mand 10-9m (submicroscopic scale). Secondly, the use of the word “particle” needs to be clarified in the teaching and learning materials because it refers to both molecules and atoms (i.e. particles of NO2), small portions of a component (i.e. dust particles, PM), and also to subatomic particles (i.e. nucleons).
How can these challenges be addressed by schools?
Taking into consideration all identified ideas, we worked intensively with teachers of our OSC on the design of teaching and learning materials to be used as part of MULTIPLIERS. As a result of this process, a set of co-designed and modular classroom materials linked to the Spanish national curriculum have been developed and published on an open website (at the moment only available in Catalan).
The designed teaching and learning materials are divided into five modules: 1) problematization; 2) air pollution: the chemistry perspective; 3) research: air pollution in our schools; 4) the effects of pollution on human health: the biology perspective; and 5) how to think and communicate solutions to reduce air pollution. Each of these modules includes a range of activities through which students learn key concepts of science (i.e. the idea that all materials are made of small particles). At the same time, they are involved in key processes of science production (i.e. designing a scientific research question, developing models about the phenomena according to the collected data, etc).
Piloting an Open Schooling Learning Project
In October 2022, a first implementation activity was piloted in one of the secondary schools in Sabadell. Three groups of students, totalling around 60 participants aged between 13-14 years, were involved in different activities for four weeks. During this period, students had the opportunity to interact with young researchers from the UAB team who visited them twice. Specifically, in their first visit, the researchers helped students to define their scientific research questions to guide their following research. Some days later, students presented the main findings of their research to the same researchers and discussed their conclusions with them.
Based on the experience of this pilot (and thanks to the feedback received from teachers and students), some improvements have been made to the teaching and learning materials.
From January to March 2023, the other three schools will implement the teaching and learning materials corresponding to the Open Schooling Learning Project about air pollution. In sequence, the students of the four schools will be posed a challenge: to become MULTIPLIERS and share their knowledge about air pollution with their community, including other secondary schools, family and friends, and scientists and other professionals. Stay tuned to find out more!
We might often think about the environmental impact of our consumption choices – but have you ever considered the repercussions of your water use and water drinking habits? Water is the most basic item to human survival, yet discussing the sustainability of water and sanitation systems isn’t always a priority in science classes and schools.
To increase students’ scientific understanding of water management and its historic uses, our partner Iren, through its educational division Eduiren and in cooperation with the Italian upper secondary school Blaise Pascal, is engaging schools and communities in a set of interdisciplinary open schooling activities. Read on and be inspired by their teaching and learning journey!
Water management and the chemical parameters of water
The chemistry teachers of the Blaise Pascal school introduced the topic of water quality to 52 4th-grade students (17-18 years old) in March 2022, proposing an activity to analyse the hardness of the water distributed in the Reggio Emilia province.
This was followed by the debate “Tap Water vs Bottled Water” in April, organized by the school with Eduiren experts, including a discussion and brainstorming on the quality aspects of different types of water and the environmental impact of our consumption habits. A technical visit to the local water supply system reservoir and water tower followed, giving students insight into real-world water supply facilities and integrated water management processes.
Students were then involved in the authentic learning group task “Your home/school water”, including the evaluation of a water analysis certificate, with assessment and critical considerations on the characteristics of specific tap waters (hardness, pH, nitrogenous compounds). An online presentation was held on the task results with the support of experts from the Iren analytical laboratory. On the same day, the experts assisted the students in analysing nitrogenous compounds in wastewater samples, using spectrophotometric methods to measure the concentration of chemicals in wastewater. In sequence, a visit to the laboratory at Iren premises took place in May.
At the end of April, a presentation on sewage networks and treatment systems, with a focus on the recovery and reuse of discharge water and sludge, was made by Iren technicians during a visit to the Mancasale wastewater treatment plants.
These activities prepared the ground for a water blind tasting session with students and their families. The aim was to work out their views on water quality and discuss water drinking patterns. Perceptions at the tasting experience were compared to the results of analytical tests on several types of drinking water, allowing participants to debunk myths and fake news regarding water quality and taste. The activity showed that many beliefs are related to preconceived ideas rather than to actual experiences or product characteristics.
At the end of the school year, four students were selected for two-week placements which took place at the Iren analytical laboratory, allowing them to acquire practical knowledge and skills on water management.
Il Mondo dell’Acqua (The Water World) – Project 2.0
Taking students’ knowledge further, a new Teaching and Learning Sequence (TLS) has been designed on the basis of the training path carried out in the previous school year. The new TLS is addressed to 42 4th-grade students of the Blaise Pascal Applied Science upper secondary school.
In November, the now 5th-graders made a presentation of the activities developed and the knowledge acquired in the project to 4th-graders. After an assessment of the experience made in Spring, the latter organised a water blind tasting in December within an “Open Schools” event, collecting data on water perception and knowledge from 150 lower secondary school students and parents. A third blind tasting session is scheduled for January 2023.
Between November 2022 and January 2023, in cooperation of Eduiren, all the steps of the training project have been “upgraded” to reflect learnings from the first learning phase and scheduled for further implementation.
An ancient water system from the Middle Ages
To complement their learnings with interdisciplinary knowledge, the students have undertaken a history research project on the Secchia Channel (Canale di Secchia) of the Reggio Emilia area. Dating back to the Middle Ages, the channel was the first water system in town: it provided water for domestic use and irrigation, collected urban sewage from homes and factories, operated mill wheels serving millstones, textile workshops and other craft and proto-industrial facilities. The project was also important to raise awareness of the impact of technological progress on everyday life and on health and hygiene improvements brought about by the advent of drinking and wastewater treatment processes.
Italian and art history teachers divided the students into groups, engaged in different assignments. Beginning in November, they studied ancient maps of the channel (from the 17th to the 19th century), and collected information on the channel’s path, water uses and different locations. They also took pictures of statues, historical artefacts and sections of the channel, comparing ancient charts with maps of the modern distribution and sewage networks.
The next step, scheduled for January 2023, is to visit the State Archives of Reggio Emilia to complete the study and collect documentation on the “Botte Meravigliosa”, a barrel-vault section of the Secchia Channel, which will be the subject of an exhibition.
Ecosystem services encompass all functions of natural systems that humans benefit from, such as clean air and water, fertile soil, pollinating insects, protection from natural disasters, climate regulation and much more. Despite being essential to all life-support systems, ecosystem services are are often considered “free” and taken for granted. Studying ecosystem services makes their value more visible to kids’ eyes, increasing students’ appreciation and willingness to treat nature with respect.
Already in April 2022, the MULTIPLIERS Open Science Community (OSC) in Slovenia started to design different activities for kids to address still much-overlooked biodiversity and ecosystem services. Together with local partners, MULTIPLIERS partner University of Ljubljana first designed so-called “natural science backpacks”, which allow kids at different educational stages to explore and research various living environments of their choice. Inside the backpacks, different types of objects were included, from everyday utensils such as strings, spoons, forks and knives to more technical equipment such as binoculars and containers with professional laboratory tubes, among others.
Additionally, the MULTIPLIERS team prepared a set of cards with inspirational ideas to encourage kids, their parents and relatives to get involved in exploratory activities. The idea behind the backpacks was to equip kids to educate their parents, bringing them on board their learning processes as they took the backpack home for one week and documented findings in a diary. This way, kids acted as knowledge multipliers, putting the main idea of the MULTIPLIERS project into practice!
In sequence, an extended version of the set of cards was developed: a small handbook with more detailed information and a protocol for different activities. These try to address all ecosystem services and are designed so that teachers can use them directly in their classes.
Altogether, we assembled 10 backpacks that were distributed in our MULTIPLIERS partner schools. For that purpose, we organised a project meeting with our partners at the University of Ljubljana’s Faculty of Education, where all the materials and the concept of the project were described. To further improve the backpack in the future, the whole implementation process and the way how kids are using the materials are being closely monitored.
So far, involved actors are enthusiastic about all the possibilities offered by the backpack and usually don’t lose much time before starting to explore and use its contents. Many kids don’t necessarily follow the card instructions but rather come up with their own creative ways of exploring ecosystem services.
Besides teaching about different living environments, the backpack is very useful for training tidiness, conscientiousness, sharing, how to take good care of materials and some other necessary soft skills. Usually, kids are very excited when they see the professional scientific tubes that are included in the kit. They instantly transform into “professionals” and gain more motivation to explore and learn about nature.
In the future, we will expand and optimise whole kit and of course add other interesting activities for multiplying knowledge and awareness about ecosystem services that we all benefit from and should be better protected.
After years of coping with a global pandemic, the topic of vaccination could not be more urgent to society and is at the centre of the first MULTIPLIERS thematic project in Germany.
Since the establishment of local Open Science Communities (OSCs) began in November 2021, the group quickly grew into a network of schools and experts from different disciplines. Among others, two secondary schools in Bonn – Ernst-Moritz-Arndt-Gymnasium and Liebfrauenschule – as well as experts from ImmunoSensation, the student association “Get vaccinated” (“Initiative Impfaufklärung in Deutschland e.V.”), and the University of Bonn’s new Center for Life Ethics are involved. By meeting all these experts during authentic educational activities, the students will receive professional support in building their arguments for fact-based discussions on socio-scientific issues around the topic of vaccination.
Together with teachers and experts, concrete planning began in November 2022. At the planning meeting organised by the MULTIPLIERS team at the University of Bonn, the upcoming project phase at the two schools was discussed, first ideas were exchanged, and argumentative methods were introduced.
In December 2022, our first plans finally turned into practice! 21 students of the 9th grade (14 years old) of the Liebfrauenschule had the chance to meet Dr. Damien Bertheloot, Immunologist and Postdoctoral Researcher at ImmunoSensation, during the first MULTIPLIERS event.
In their previous lessons, the students had worked on comics related to the immune system, and Damien provided feedback on their work by explaining more about the cells involved in immune response and answering the students’ questions. He started his lecture with an overview of the different cell types of the human immune system and included the students’ comics in his presentation.
Using microscope video footage, he illustrated how individual cells work, sparking enthusiasm across the group. At the end of his talk, Damien also chose the three best comics, whose illustrators each received a small prize.
Through the incorporation of the students’ own comics, Damien’s talk became personally relevant to the students, who burst into excited chatter once a new comic was shown on the slides. Moreover, the students valued the peek into the “real” world of research through the videos of the immune cells in motion, which provided an unfamiliar perspective they do not usually encounter in school. In the Q&A session that followed, students showed interest not only in the content of the lecture but also in Damien’s professional career.
In January 2023, students from Liebfrauenschule will meet and work with the “Get vaccinated” group. As the final project activity, Prof. Dr. Christiane Woopen and Peter Bröckerhoff from the Centre of Life Ethics will invite the students to discuss the moral aspects of vaccination. Further activities on the topic of vaccination with upper secondary students (age 16) from the Ernst-Moritz-Arndt-Gymnasium will start in January.
More on our OSC in Germany
ImmunoSensation is a cluster of excellence at the University of Bonn funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG) which is dedicated to the study of innate immunity. The scientists‘ expertise lie in various disciplines including immunology, neurobiology, systems biology, and mathematics.
The student association “Get vaccinated”, founded in Bonn, is a network of medical students and students from related courses like biology, neuroscience or pharmacy. The voluntary initiative has set itself the goal of providing vaccination education, especially for young people at secondary schools all around Germany.
The interdisciplinary research at the University of Bonn’s Center for Life Ethics, which opened in October 2022, focuses primarily on the topics of technologisation, economisation, ecologisation, and globalisation.
The MULTIPLIERS OSC in Germany is convened by the University of Bonn, one of MULTIPLIERS’ core partners.
In July 2022, our Multipliers Open Science Community (OSC) in Cyprus started designing the Teaching and Learning Sequence of their Open Schooling approach, and during the first week of October, their three science teachers introduced the crucial topic of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) to 96 8th graders (13-14 years-old) attending the Senior School in Nicosia. As part of the Open Schooling approach, during the second week of November, students had the opportunity to interact with experts from the Biobank.cy Center of Excellence in school and biobank.cy facilities and engage in scientific practices.
Learning about AMR in school: how this Multipliers’ journey evolved
On October 4th, the teachers started with an introduction to microbes (as part of the teaching unit ‘Microbes’ of the school curriculum), and after an initial brainstorming the discussion unfolded around antimicrobial resistance as an increasing threat to human health. To provide the students with crucial information, the teachers presented the issue of AMR using official videos and information according to official reports published by policymakers such as the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC).
After that, the students formed groups representing six different types of stakeholders (i.e., policymakers, pharmacists, academia/scientists, patients, farmers, and the media) to explore the issue of AMR. Each group was given a set of authentic information sources related to AMR (e.g., policy report, scientific article, newspaper article, testimonials) and after reading through the media, the students collaborated to evaluate the information according to a media literacy tool using Google Docs or a common table on A3 paper.
In the next lesson, each group reflected on the trustworthiness of the source corresponding to their stakeholder group. After an introduction to the argumentation process, the students started forming lines of arguments for or against the use of antibiotics based on their assigned stakeholder role. They received feedback comments from their teachers and University of Cyprus (UCY) researchers, revised their arguments, and prepared themselves for a debate on the following topic: “We should ban the use of antibiotics for the treatment of flu. Do you agree or disagree?”. The final lesson of this phase was a debate on AMR with the students giving an excellent performance supporting the viewpoints of the different stakeholders.
Students work with experts to learn more about AMR
The next step was to learn more about AMR in interaction with experts while being engaged in authentic activities adopting scientific practices inside and outside of the school facilities. This intervention was effectively planned well in advance and implemented in close collaboration between the UCY researchers, the biobank.cy experts and the teachers adopting a student-centered approach. This intervention evolved in three days as follows:
Day 1: Biobank.cy experts meet the students
On November 7th, six experts from the biobank.cy with biology-related backgrounds (i.e., molecular biology, biochemistry, biotechnology, molecular medicine, biobanking, and medical genetics) visited the Senior School. They introduced themselves talking about the biobank.cy mission, their jobs, their studies, hobbies, favourite food and animals. Finally, they familiarised the students with the agenda for the next day’s visit of the premises of the biobank.cy.
Day 2: The four-hour visit to the biobank.cy facilities
On November 8th, the students arrived early in the morning at the biobank.cy and formed four groups representing four resistant bacteria: mycoplasma, staphylococcus, e.coli, and salmonella. The groups rotated through four different stations that were led by the six experts. In those stations the students were engaged in interactive lab activities with a focus on bacterial resistance to antibiotics.
During the activities, the students had the opportunity to use scientific equipment (e.g., light microscope, Petri dishes, antibiotic disks) but also simple materials (e.g., candies, clay, cumin) to engage in scientific practices such as observation, argumentation, and modeling. The most inspiring experience was that discussions between the experts and students unfolded related to the nature of science, the significance of science in society, the role of scientists in society, scientists’ everyday routine, their study and career trajectories, and the reasons they chose to be scientists.
Day 3: Students’ reflections on the visit
The day after, one expert and a researcher from UCY visited the school, shared an overview of the activities performed, showed photos from the cultivation of E.coli on CLED and blood agar, and announced the three best microbe clay models. The visit concluded with a 10-question quiz, students’ recommendations on how to improve the visit, and the secret message derived from the activities: “Some microbes transfer DNA mutations through plasmids for stronger coats” (i.e., some microbes survive and transfer germs via mobile elements – plasmids with AMR cassette – that form stronger cell walls – coats – thus resisting to antibiotics).
The interaction between the students and the experts was beneficial for both. On the one hand, the students had an exciting opportunity to learn more about AMR in the authentic environment of the biobank.cy, and also engage in scientific practices with experts and in discussions about the nature of science and the value of science in society. On the other hand, the experts faced the challenge to get out of the research lab, to transform and then successfully communicate their scientific knowledge to the students. But what’s next? The next step for the students is to develop their open schooling projects within their OSC that will be part of a targeted awareness campaign for AMR.
The goal is to go beyond the school borders and spread the word to face AMR together. Stay tuned!